ROCHESTER — About 150 people attended the Diocese of Rochester’s annual Deacon Convocation at Monroe Community Hospital April 16.
Highlights of the day including a Mass during which seven men, known as aspirants, took part in a ritual that designated them candidates for the permanent diaconate. Men studying for the permanent diaconate spend one year as aspirants, and then three years as candidates before they are ordained, according to Deacon David Palma, director of the diocesan Office of Deacon Personnel.
The seven men who became candidates for the diaconate were Jose Berrios of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rochester; Bienvenido DeJesus of Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier, Rochester; Michael Donovan of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick’s, Owego; David Hudzinski of St. Boniface, Rochester; Robert “Kayo” Hull of St. Michael’s, Penn Yan; Edward Kohlmeier of Church of the Epiphany, Sodus; and Alberto Pacete of Church of the Annunciation, Rochester. The new candidates are among 29 men currently in formation to become permanent deacons, including four who will be ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester May 21 at 10:30 a.m.
Several of the new diaconal candidates noted they were excited to be taking the next step on the way to becoming permanent members of the community. Pacete and his wife, Mesina, are both active at Annunciation, where he serves as music director/parish minister and his wife is a volunteer. The couple said they agreed that the diaconate would enhance his ministry.
“I’m already doing the service, but I thought it would mean a lot more to the people if I was ordained,” Pacete said.
Like Pacete, Donovan said he’s served the church for years, but felt ordination would take his ministry to another level.
“It gives you credibility,” he said. “It gives you a sense of why you’re there.”
Hull said he was primarily attracted to the diaconate because of the sense of mission it offered.
“It’s getting out of the easy routine and taking personal commitment to a new level,” he said.
Other highlights of the convocation included Deacon Claude Curtin, chairman of the Deacon Formation Policy Board, receiving the Deacon Stan Zawacki Award from the St. Stephen’s Diaconal Community Association, a diocesan organization of deacons, their wives and other supporters of the diaconate. The award recognizes support of, and service to, the diaconal community, and is named for the late Deacon Zawacki, who died in 1994 and who established the association.
Deacon Curtin said he was delighted to receive the award.
“(Deacon Zawacki) was a mentor to me while I was studying,” Deacon Curtin said. “It was marvelous 13 years after my ordination to be associated with his name and his example.”
Bishop Matthew H. Clark was among those who spoke at the convocation, which focused on the theme of “Peace: Let It Begin With Me.” In his presentation, Bishop Clark noted that the diaconate itself was founded to bring peace between Hebrew and Hellenist members of the early Christian community. The Hellenists were grumbling that the ethnic Jews were favoring their own people when helping those in need, so the early diaconal community was created to make sure the Hellenist needy received their fair share.
St. Stephen, “the first deacon and the first martyr,” was also a witness for peace, Bishop Clark said, noting he was a man who forgave those who stoned him to death.
“As with Stephen, our witness for peace stands on the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Bishop Clark said.